UKIP Voters: a Fruitful Endeavour for the Conservatives?

Antonio Dorileo

For many months now, there has been increasing commentary on Conservatives worried about supporters who may have jumped ship to join the ranks of UKIP.

Without any doubt, the Party David Cameron once famously described as a bunch of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists, is now perceived by commentators as a real threat to his re-election prospects.

But despite the much-covered exploits of Godfrey Bloom, some Conservatives may still pine for these former stock Tories, some of whom were proudly emblazoned with yellow and purple outside Central Methodist Hall in Westminster for the UKIP Party Conference recently, just a stone’s throw from PLMR Towers.

However, some observers increasingly believe that there may be something that the Conservatives are missing, a potential opportunity to shed the final remnants of their image as ‘the Nasty Party’ and become a broader organisation that might appeal more to the wider public. After all, they have not won a General Election outright in more than 20 years with their current strategy.

One big question being asked is: what if the Conservatives stopped worrying about UKIP, and instead focused on the people that do not vote, don’t know who to vote for, or are intending to vote for another Party such as the Liberal Democrats? Could that be the key to outright electoral success?

Some recent polling data from YouGov suggests it could. Rather than pandering to UKIP, something Labour leader Ed Miliband accused Prime Minister David Cameron of earlier this year, the Conservatives could occupy a more fruitful gap in the electoral market. On the issue of Law and Order, Liberal Democrat voters rate their own party only three points ahead of the Tories in being the best party to handle the problem (28% – 31%). On asylum and immigration, the sum of voters that don’t know, or believe none of the parties are best to handle the issue, outnumber those that believe the Conservatives are best placed, a gap of 5 points (33% – 28%). These voters could be richer pickings for the Tories than the not so low hanging fruit of UKIP.

Ipsos MORI’s most recent Issues Index shows that the top concerns for voters are the economy, unemployment, race relations/immigration and the NHS. This will give pause for thought to anyone in the Conservative Party considering a tack to the right in the chase for UKIP votes. This is because in these areas the Party’s polling is outstripped or matched, either by Labour, or a sum of one of the other parties plus the ‘don’t knows’, for who would deal with these issues best.

These recent polls suggest that if the Conservatives were to focus less on regaining voters from UKIP (becoming UKIP-Lite perhaps), and instead looked to building a base from a larger number of voters that are undecided about the Liberals or Labour, or are disillusioned completely, they could strengthen their chances of outright electoral success.

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